Situated on elevated land just one mile south-east of the Brudenell family’s historic seat at Deene Park, Deenethorpe Airfield is what remains of RAF Deenethorpe, a World War II air base used by the USAAF’s 401st Bombardment Group, from where 255 combat missions were flown against Nazi occupied targets in Europe.
After the war, the site remained with the RAF until the 1960s and was then taken back by Deene Park Estate and returned to agriculture.
In 2016, the estate saw the potential to enhance this prominent but exposed site, by undertaking what would become one of the three largest woodland creation schemes in England that year.
Plans were drawn up to convert 40 hectares (100acres) of arable land into woodland to link, buffer and expand the nearby ancient woods that partly surround the airfield. The new woods were designed to meet a number of key environmental policies, including wildlife habitat creation, flood prevention, water pollution reduction, and climate change abatement through carbon sequestration. At the same time, the woods will be managed to produce sustainably grown timber and fuel wood products as part of the Estate’s wider forestry business.
In total, 24 species of broadleaved and coniferous tree were selected to meet the design objectives, including England oak, small-leaved lime, wild service tree, black walnut, hazel, crab apple, spindleberry, Scots pine, Douglas fir and Japanese red cedar.
Planting was completed in two phases, with grant assistance under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The first phase took place in January and February 2017, while second phase was undertaken in November and December 2017, with early snow just preventing completion before Christmas.
In total, 85,000 trees were planted, each one protected from rabbits and hares by an individual guard, and wild deer by a total of 7.6km (4.75miles) of deer fence.
As far as possible, the trees were sourced and grown in Britain, to give them the best chance of growing well on the site. The planting was awarded to a small local contractor, who was able to take on several additional men who had recently been made redundant in nearby Corby, giving them new skills and opening up employment opportunities.
Now fully planted, the trees will take 3-5 years to become established and able to grow well unaided. In the meantime, they are being cared for by members of estate staff, some of whom have received additional training and qualifications in important tasks such as weeding.
The new woodland is already making it mark in the local landscape and as it grows, it will help shape and define this important part of the ancient Rockingham Forest. In addition, a further 8,000 new trees are to be planted just to the north, on the western side of Deenethorpe village, again to enhance the local area and further improve the setting of the village.
Despite the weather we had a wonderful day with you all and everything worked out so well – the welcome was so warm, and your staff in the kitchen were spot on! Presentation of food was excellent, and I felt the prices were most acceptable! Wendy the guide was quite wonderful, and I hope she realised how much we enjoyed the tour – everybody paid full attention. We were lucky enough to have a window of dry after lunch and were able to get round the grounds and also bought plants! We even had a “Gardener’s Question Time” with the Head Gardener who was patient and knew everything we asked! All in all despite the weather we had a really good day. Thank you again, you never know you might see me again – shock horror!
JanetWednesday 18th May 2016
We pre booked our visit and arrived for 2pm. Our guide was Andrew the Head Gardener who is to be congratulated for his depth of knowledge about the origins of the gardens. He had studied the original records of the early days of the Brudenell/Cardigan family and produced a very interesting talk and tour. His passion and vision for the garden is refreshing and has produced a wonderful collection of “Cottage Garden” plants that flourish through the seasons with the encouragement of Mrs Brudenell. The Estate now has a lovely wooden framed shop selling plants and memorabilia pertaining to Deene Park. I’d love some of his Cottage Garden seeds! Very enjoyable couple of hours and the sun shone which is a bonus. Highly recommended.
We drove 65 miles to visit……. Well worth it!
I pass on our great thanks from all the folks who came from St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s, Woodkirk for a really wonderful visit.
The weather was very kind so we were able to enjoy the lovely gardens and both guides were very informative and friendly and everybody enjoyed their lunch and endless pieces of cake!
The house look superb and the extra displays covering 500 years of the Brudenells life at Deene Park were really informative and helpful.
For my wife Angela and myself it brought back memories of visiting Deene Park literally ten years ago to the day to be interviewed by Edmund and Marian for the post here at East Ardsley – happy memories and also of the butler at the time who I understand has also died.
Please do pass on our thanks to the team and all who helped make our visit very special.
Glenn CogginsVicar at St. Michael’s East Ardsley
Such a beautiful house and grounds. Well worth a visit.
Our group found the House really interesting and informative and the gardens were also lovely when we walked around, despite the rain some of the time. We also enjoyed the Light Lunch and the afternoon tea that we all had later on.
Jeffrey FisherEdgware Reform Synagogue
Wow!! What a great day we had. Deene Park was a little hidden gem. What a history it had and on behalf of all my group I would like you to pass on our thanks to our two guides, Ruth (my group) and David. They made the house come alive and had so much knowledge. Please also pass on our thanks to the chef – the food was excellent -and the waitresses who were so pleasant and efficient. All in all it was a wonderful day and I will have no hesitation in recommending Deene Park as a great place to visit.
We had a terrific time at Deene Park. Please pass on our thanks firstly to the owners, but also to everyone else who contributed to such a delightful afternoon. We know it takes an awful lot of work by unseen staff, as well as those we met, in order for these events to be successful. We were made very welcome by the lady on the gate and had a fascinating insight into Deene Park’s history by our tour guide and yourself. The gardeners too are to be commended for the outstanding plants, inside the house and grounds. All in all, a splendid house, in a fabulous setting. What better way to spend a summer afternoon. We certainly hope to visit again.
Averil & Lloyd FaireyAugust 2015
We enjoyed our last visit so much, wonderful gardens, delicious food and friendly staff made a return visit a must.
A wonderfully presented family home with a history to rival any historic house I have visited. Excellent room guides who were very informative.
J SnedkerApril 2015